When Susan was a young, she lived on a Worksop council estate with her parents.  She explained that; both of her parents were out of work, and it was a difficult time. At school Sue was called hurtful names, and was being bullied.  “This really affected me from a very young age.” she said.

In Secondary School, Susan tried to “fit in” with others her age; she started to smoke and drink; “I knew this wasn’t right, not for me, but I wanted to be part of the “gang”, so I wouldn’t be picked on.”

This continued through her teenage years, along with drugs, into adulthood.  Sadly, this regular and continued use led to Susan becoming more and more reliant – 27 years of addiction.  The memories of her bullying were always with her and led to lack of confidence and low self-esteem.  Susan explained that; “to block out these memories, I turned to heroin to cover-up the hurt.  It did help, for a while, and allowed me to forget how ashamed I felt and how scared I was about what I was doing to myself.  But, it wasn’t me, not the real Sue.”

Whilst taking heroin, Susan then got into what she called “a bad relationship”, which further compounded her addiction and behaviour to “feed the habit”.  This inevitably led to the criminal justice system and Prison.

The shock of being locked up led Susan to decide that she wanted to change her lifestyle and come off drugs.  Her then relationship seemed to be more stable and resulted in a child.  However, on being released from hospital after giving birth, she began using once again.  Her partner was still abusing drugs, and it tempted Susan.  She explained that; “it’s no excuse but I was in a vicious circle going around and around – no matter how much I wanted to come off drugs, my low confidence and lack of self-esteem always led me back to it propping up my life.”

In the end, due to drug addictions, this led to her 3 children being taken off of her, and placed with her partner’s mother. This further accelerated her descent into despair and at this point, Susan admits, all she cared about was her next fix, getting the money to fund her habit.  As a result, they stopped paying their bills and very quickly ended up being evicted and becoming homeless.

To survive this crisis of their own making they slept in tents, doorways and even derelict buildings.  However, after support from HOPE they managed to find a property.  Things seemed to be on the up……but the drug habit still had a firm hold on them both.  They stripped the property of anything they could sell – copper, cupboards, furniture, anything – “we trashed it, I am ashamed to say”.  Once again, Susan was arrested and served another 2 years in Prison.

On release, Susan had to start her life again.  She had no relationship, no access to her child and, no-where to live.  “I was at rock bottom, nothing could be worse.”

Susan came back to HOPE and worked with Lawson Main, Hope’s Chaplain, to explore whether The “Lighthouse’s” structured Detoxification Programme would be worthwhile.  She said; “this sparked interest in me.  In prison I was drug free and it allowed me time to realise what I had done and how I needed to change.” They both agreed that a visit to the centre in Rotherham would be a great step forward.  Susan said “It took my breath away, I saw love, peace and a different picture entirely.  It made me decide that I definitely wanted to come off drugs, and I knew the only way to do this was rehabilitation.  I realised that it would be hard work but, I was as low as you could get.  I wanted and needed to change, to get out of this self-destructive lifestyle and feeding the habit”.

From this moment onwards, Susan was on a mission.  She attended the recovery programme and successfully managed to stay clean of drugs.  This then inspired her to then apply to “Teen Challenge UK”.  She explained; “Teen Challenge was great!  The faith based programme allowed me to realise that God made me and that I am somebody who is worthy.  I began to appreciate that I needed to be me, to love myself and not pretend to be something or somebody I’m not.  God gave me back my confidence”.

In September 2016, Susan graduated from “Teen Challenge”, a real accomplishment of which she is extremely proud.  It was her path out of addiction after years of feeling lost and alone.  She now Volunteers for “Teen Challenge”, helping others who are in the position that she was once in herself.  From February 2017, She will be embarking on a 6 month Internship with their Leadership Academy.  Her future is certainly much brighter.